A/N: A Christmas request fic for Anon, who asked for: Somehow Shinra ends up giving/making Shizuo drink a truth serum which make him not be able to lie for a week and Shizuo is suddenly being too honest about his feeling for Izaya by admitting that he has wet dreams about him! Cue in cracky/embarassing lines/situations with Shinra/and Celty narrating/commenting in the sidelines.

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Ninety nine times out of a hundred, if Shinra called him up demanding his presence "right now! It's really important!" Shizuo would have hung up without a flicker of guilt and gone on with his day. 'Cause you only fell for that crap once… okay, twice. Well, and that time Shinra said it was life or death and then proceeded to try and lure him into a prostate exam. Either way, he'd lost all faith in his own judgment, and couldn't tell whether he was just too damn soft or whether he really was stupid as a post, so the safest thing to do was ignore everything.

Except… Shinra did sound pretty stressed out. For all Shizuo knew, maybe the flea bastard had pulled some screwed up shit again and somehow, Shinra and Celty were caught in the middle of it. Wasn't as if they had a huge network of people to reach out to for help, right…?

Standing outside the doctor's apartment door, Shizuo shook his head. If it was another attempt at the prostate exam, then Shinra was gonna be picking pieces of his glasses out of his ass for the next week.

"Oh!" Shinra seemed blankly surprised to see him as he opened the door. "You're here! Come in, come in…"

Shizuo risked a look at Shinra's hands. No latex gloves. That was probably a good sign.

"Coffee?" Shinra beamed over his shoulder as he disappeared back into the apartment. Still on guard – 'cause you never knew what the pervert was gonna spring on you… - Shizuo followed warily.

"Nah, it's fine. What did you-?"

"No?" Shinra's head popped around the doorframe. "Don't you know they've verified several health benefits of coffee? Lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's disease… it's full of anti-oxidants, which is a boon for a chain smoker like you. Oh, speaking of which, how have you been feeling lately?"

How the hell did they get there from him refusing coffee? "Uh… fine, I guess? Same as usual."

"Any extra stress? Any injuries, any bleeding…?"

"If there were injuries, you'da known about it." Shizuo arched a brow. "And dunno about 'extra' stress, just the same kind I usually get." The sort that arrived wrapped in fur and a smirk, flashing blades and general smartassery around.

"Good, good." Shinra looked as though he was making Shizuo a coffee anyway. The metal cup they kept just for him was already out on the counter. "And you're not taking any other medication right now, are you?"

Ah, crap, this really was another "but prostate exams are good, Shizuo! It's every man's responsibility to take care of his body! Now, pants down, and up on the table you go!" lecture. Ass clenching at the very thought, he took a seat at the kitchen counter. Let's see Shinra try and shove things up there while he was sitting on it…

"So?" He squirmed a little. "What did you want?"

"Hmm?" Shinra looked up from his task. "Why do you think I wanted anything? Maybe I invited you over as a friend, because I really don't think we spend enough time together bonding on a man-to-man level, and any friend of my Celty is a dear, dear friend of mine."

"Tch…" Shizuo arched a brow. "So the whole 'come over, right now, it's an emergency!' was just bullshit, huh?"

"Well…" Shinra smiled brightly, handing him the cup and pushing the sugar bowl across the counter. "Nurturing friendship is always an emergency, right?"

Scowling sceptically, Shizuo spooned several loads of sugar into his coffee. Despite that, the stuff still tasted bitter as he took the first swig. "The hell can people drink this crap…?"

"Coffee?" Shinra scratched his cheek, peering at his own cup while the cartoon on the side of the mug grinned maniacally in Shizuo's direction. "But I only get the best kind. It's one of those… homely smells, you know. They tell you to brew coffee and bake bread whenever you're trying to sell your house."

Shizuo frowned, taking another sip. No, still tasted like ground up dirt seasoned with charcoal. "Are you selling up?"

"Oh, no! Not at all." Shinra tilted his head, smiling smugly. "Why, would you miss us if we moved away?"

"Yeah." Huh? "I mean, I…"

"Oh, say no more." Shinra winked, as Shizuo took another sip of coffee; the bad taste beat saying something else stupid… "I understand completely. You'd miss seeing the loveliness of my Celty on a regular basis, right?"

"What? No! Well I'd miss seeing her, since she's my friend, but I'd miss you too 'cause you're an idiot but I figure you always mean well, and you're a good doctor, so…" He blinked, watching Shinra's smile widen as he rambled on. "What the hell…?"

"You really think I'm a good doctor?"

"Yeah." What? No I don't! You always whine that you want to analyze me, and threaten me with full-body physicals!

"And you really don't want to secretly murder me and bury me in the back yard so you can elope into the sunset with my lovely Celty?"

"No!" Well, the burying in the back yard part was getting more and more appealing with every passing second… "Why are you even asking me this crap, huh?"

With an innocent look that screamed 'this is about as far from innocent as it's humanly possible to get', Shinra sipped his coffee, gaze averted. "No reason."

"Like hell." Shizuo growled, draining his cup before slamming it on the counter. Cuckoo crazy as Shinra happened to be, it still wasn't right to waste stuff people gave you. And as loaded up with sugar as it was, he'd probably need the energy if he had to bean the doctor with his own coffee machine. "I knew I shouldn't have come here. I thought you were just gonna try and get up my ass with your creepy gloves again, but—"

Oh for the love of… shut up!

"Oh, true, you are due a check-up." Shinra mused. "I'll have to pencil you in for that…"

"No you fricking well won't! I don't want you groping my ass!"

Shinra looked surprised. "Oh? There's already someone else you want groping your ass?"

Feeling the blood pound in his face, Shizuo backed up fast enough to knock over the stool. Raging at the uncomfortable cocktail of fury and embarrassment brewing in his veins, he grit his teeth till his jaw hurt, but he still couldn't bite back the barely coherent grunt of "…yes."

Oh, fuck. Okay, if he hadn't suspected it before, now he knew something had gone seriously awry. Because he didn't just admit shit like that, not to anyone, and certainly not to loud-mouthed, untrustworthy bastards like Shinra…!

Shinra. Forgoing righting the chair, he grabbed Shinra by the lapels of his coat instead, hauling the doctor off his feet and slamming him against the nearest cupboard. Shinra's coffee spilled over the counter, and whatever was wrong with Shizuo made him glance back at the puddle of dark liquid and snarl dangerously in Shinra's face, "I'm gonna feel really bad if I've just broken your mug. 'Cause it's fucking creepy, but it's kinda cute too, and you seem to like it so much."

"Um…" Shinra blinked. "Thank you?"

"Don't fucking thank me! Dumbass! What the fuck have you done to me?"

Shinra eeped quietly, a bead of sweat dripping down his temple as he forced a smile, hands up in useless defence. "It won't cause any permanent harm! Well, not that I'm aware of, but-" His teeth clacked together as Shizuo smacked him against the cupboard again. "Sorry, sorry! But I'm confident with one hundred percent certainty that it won't cause you any lasting damage. That's why I wanted to try it out on you.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"It's a truth serum." Shinra squeezed his eyes shut, bracing himself for a punch to the teeth. When none came, he peeked at Shizuo from the corner of his eye. "It'll wear off. And besides, you're always such an honest sort of person anyway, it won't be that bad… right?"

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, oh goddamn fuck.

'Cause yeah, he always figured he was a pretty honest guy. Called it like he saw it, and didn't see any good reason to mince his words when people generally took any excuse not to take responsibility for their own damn messes in the first place. He didn't have any screwed up fetishes, no deep dark secrets.

Except for one.

And as far as deep dark secrets went, it was about as far off the scale of 'causing no permanent harm' as it was possible to get.

He grit his teeth. "How long is this gonna last?"

Shinra looked away. "…a few days."

"Hah? I musta been hearing wrong, 'cause I swear you just said—"

"A few days." Shinra nodded. "A week, maximum."


"Maximum!" Shinra repeated, as if he hoped reiterating that little detail would somehow negate the fact he done something this fucked up at all. "And this is you, right? It'll probably wear off in a day or two."

Letting go with a shove, Shizuo took a few paces away. "That's not the fricking point!"

"Come on…" Shinra rubbed the bruises no doubt forming on his chest, sounding all-too-reasonable. "You'd never have agreed to this if I just came out and asked, right?"

"Of course not! Who the hell would do something like that?"

"Well, so you see I had no choice." Shinra shrugged. "Apart from anything else, I'll get some really reliable results with you…" He tapped his chin thoughtfully. "I did think about testing it on Izaya, but I don't think they make a truth serum strong enough to get him to be honest. So I chose you! You're part of a scientific breakthrough, isn't that great?"

"No it's not fricking great, it's about the dumbest thing you've ever done."

"Dumber than the time I tried getting you drunk so I could take a blood sample?"

"Dumber than that."

Shinra paused, something frighteningly calculating going on behind his eyes. Then: "Dumber than the time I introduced you to Izaya?"

Shizuo swallowed hard. "Dumber than that."

"Hmm." Shinra nodded. "Then you really do think this is a bad idea, don't you?" Laughing a little, he rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, if you have some holiday time coming, you might want to lay low for a few days…"

"Tch… I'll fucking lay you low."


"…No." He hung his head. "I hate violence. So I'm just gonna go before I change my mind and your next experiment is on how to get your head out of your ass."

"Wait…" Shinra scurried after him. "I'll need to monitor your progress, and—"

"How about you monitor my progress by how long you keep breathing, huh?"

Shinra backed off, hands held up placatingly. "Understood. Oh, but if you do have any odd side effects, call me okay? It'll help me analyze the effective dosage."

"How about none?" Shizuo groused, slamming the door shut hard as he walked out. Shinra, wisely, let him go.

Celty was coming into the lobby as he was storming out. Ordinarily, running into his friend would have soothed whatever feathers the world had ruffled, but right now all he could think about was how to get the hell out before she asked him anything that… well, anything.

He was kind of used to not trusting his body. It had been doing shit he didn't want it to for a long time now, after all. But most of the time, the stuff that came out of his mouth was the stuff he meant to say. Even when it was really, really, dumb.

[Shizuo!] Celty's helmet tilted in greeting. [Were you here to see Shinra?]

"Yeah…" Hands in his pockets, he hung back a little. "He called and said it was important, so…"

[Oh.] Celty's shoulder slumped in a sigh. [Did he try to …?]

Was it just his imagination or did the tendrils of smoke puffing free as she removed her helmet look a little… phallic?


[So what did he do?]

Because, obviously, everyone knew Shinra was creepy and twisted, with a pathological desire almost as strong as the flea's to make his life miserable on a regular basis. Everyone 'cept the idiot crazy enough to come here anyway.

Apparently this crap worked just as well on written questions as it did with verbal ones, because he was halfway through, "Made me drink some fricking truth serum that won't wear off for days, so now I can't lie and I gotta avoid the fucking flea for a week," before he even realized what he was saying.

Celty paused, confused. [You don't want to run into Izaya?]


[Well, I suppose that makes sense. He'd take advantage of something like this in a heartbeat.]

Yeah, he would. Izaya was the kind of guy who'd find a way to take advantage of the fact the sky was blue, and that Monday followed Sunday. But for once, that wasn't what Shizuo was worried about. He was just a fraction more terrified of all the ammunition he'd be handing the flea on a silver goddamn platter if Izaya so much as opened his mouth.

He was safe, relatively speaking, with Celty. Clear and direct, there was rarely any ulterior motive for her questions. Izaya, on the other hand was a walking fricking encyclopedia of innuendo-laden bullshit, and Shizuo dreaded the possibility that whatever Shinra had given him couldn't tell the difference.

[Will you be okay?]

"As long as I don't see anyone else until this crap's gone." He shook his head, turning to stomp away. "I'm leaving now 'cause I don't want to answer any more questions." Goddammit…! "Sorry."

Leaving Celty staring at his retreat, he slunk out of the building, head down. He might not know how this stuff worked, but damn if he was going to risk looking at people. Some days it was hard enough not to go up to 'em and say "Who the fuck dressed you this morning, dumbass, a blind monkey?" even without Shinra's concoction zooming through his bloodstream. And he wouldn't care much about starting a fight, except that it'd cause a commotion and he swore the flea found him with such unerring accuracy because he just gravitated towards chaos, and it was a rare day in Ikebukuro that Shizuo wasn't in the middle of it.

It'd be okay. He'd just make sure to stay a million miles away from the flea for the rest of the week. No one else he knew would dare broach the subject in his presence, after all, and even if they did, he doubted the line of questioning would run to, "So… do you want to fuck his brains out until neither of you can walk straight?"

The 'yes' that tried to weasel its way past his lips made him cringe. What the fuck, he wasn't even allowed to lie in his head now?

I hate cake.

Huh. Okay, maybe not. Good.

Unless… what if deep down he did hate cake? What if he'd somehow made himself enjoy cake to make up for some trauma or other, or that cake was just a poor substitute for love or affection, or…

Oh, god… shut up, shut up, shut up!

If he wouldn't look seven kinds of crazy, he'd have clamped his hands over his ears to try and block out the thoughts.

Turning the next corner, he found himself wishing he had


Oh shit.

Maybe he didn't even need to incite chaos. Maybe the traces of disaster that clung to him worse than the scent of smoke was enough of a beacon for shitty fleas.

"Been to see Shinra, ne?" That stupid coat of his swirling around him, Izaya strolled over with a lazy, hip-swaying gait.

Shizuo didn't even slow down. If he just kept going, Izaya might not hear the words he'd rather choke on than speak. His mouth, on the other hand, had different ideas.


Huh? Since when was he so casually civil to the flea? And of course Izaya being Izaya noticed, and sidled a little closer to press his luck.

"Ah, don't tell me you got into another fight, Shizu-chan." The flea tut-tutted softly. "You're not going to get very far unless you learn to control these impulses of yours. Of course, that'd be boring for me, and if you can't just go die, the least you can do is be entertaining…"

"No, I wasn't in a fight…" And it made no difference, but he tensed his jaw until his scalp hurt and sweat prickled his forehead in an effort to shut the hell up. "And I know I won't, so I'm happy it entertains you, flea, 'cause at least that way the whole thing's not totally fucking pointless."

"Hmm?" Izaya peered after him, turning on his heel and skipping to catch up. "What's this? Shizu-chan's actually intelligent enough to use sarcasm?" The flea didn't sound very pleased at that potential development. "You know, just using your tiny little protozoan brain isn't enough to make you human."

Damn it, he knew he wasn't. If he was, he might provoke someone into hitting him in the mouth with a shovel. At least that way, he might get his jaw wired shut and wouldn't make an idiot of himself…

"Not being sarcastic," he grunted. "Just telling you the truth." Un-fucking-fortunately. "And yeah, you don't need to keep reminding me about that…"

"So you're just having a regular conversation with me of your own free will?"

Shizuo took a little comfort in how confused Izaya sounded. "Yeah."

Not so good was Izaya thinking about that for a second. "Why?"

Grimacing and the long, drawn out sound of that word, Shizuo jammed his hands in his pockets to keep from throttling at least one of them. "Because it's not of my own free fucking will."

"Oh. Well, that makes sense…"

"Shut the hell up."

"Why on earth would I want to do that? It's not every day you're so unusually chatty, ne?"

"You wouldn't. You never give a shit about what I want."

For some reason, Izaya didn't pounce on the obvious 'you're acting like a fifteen year old girl with a crush, Shizu-chan!' bait. Instead he smiled slowly. "My, someone's being very upfront today. What's wrong, did you finally give up on wanting me dead?"

Feeling heat bloom under his collar, Shizuo ground out, "Never wanted you dead."

"Ah, that's probably true, ne? Since you've had so many opportunities and never taken any of them." Izaya snickered. "So tell me, since we're being so brutally honest this afternoon, what exactly do you get out of being so unpredictable, hmm? Aside from irritating me, obviously."

Shizuo braced himself for whatever garbage might come out of his mouth next, vaguely surprised when all he had to say was, "I'm not unpredictable."

But the he'd never really gotten what the flea was harping on about with that, anyway. He was about the most boringly predictable person he knew. Just 'cause that put him at odds with Izaya on virtually every clashing point didn't mean he couldn't be counted on to act exactly like he acted last time.

"Oh course you are," Izaya waved a dismissive hand. "Ah, so all this never doing what I want you do to thing is because I'm special?"

"Yeah. That's about the gist of it."

Izaya laughed. "Shizu-chan's so sweet! I think I like this new you more than the last one."

"Good." Shizuo scowled in the direction of his shoes, teeth clamped tight and tone promising inventive murder. "That makes me really fucking happy."

"Down, boy." Izaya giggled softly. "I don't like you that much. Ah, now if you could somehow turn yourself human, well…"

Izaya lapsed into silence for a moment, and Shizuo might've punched him just to keep him from hovering at his back like some demonically possessed hummingbird, except he dreaded Izaya asking something along the lines of 'what was that for?'

'Cause you drive me fricking crazy, that's what it'd be for.

Huh. Actually he might get lucky, Izaya might take that in the way it wasn't intended…

And he might get really unlucky, and the drug would decide that Izaya needed a decidedly non-verbal answer to that question. One that involved Izaya's back up against the nearest alley wall and Shizuo between his legs in any way he could get.

Not happening. Not now, not today, not ever.

"Look, just leave me the hell alone, okay? I don't wanna deal with you right now." That was true too, so the words came easily. "Didn't I tell you to stay the fuck out of Ikebukuro?"

"Ah," Izaya agreed with a sigh. "You've been saying that for… years now, do you really expect it'll work today?"

Glare fixed onto the dirty sidewalk in front of him, Shizuo shook his head. "No."

"So why keep trying? I mean, really, Shizu-chan…" He heard the smirk curl up in Izaya's voice, turning annoying into something more sinister. "Anyone would think you didn't enjoy seeing me on a regular basis, ne?"

"Why keep trying?" He stopped so abruptly that Izaya smacked into his back. If it wasn't for the verbal laxative Shinra had drugged him with, he might have gleaned some satisfaction from the softly cursed "ow…!" and the sight of the flea glaring at him as he rubbed his nose. "'Cause I think that maybe one day you'll fricking listen and do as you're told!" Izaya's eyes widened slightly as Shizuo backed him up against the closest wall, and growled, "And of course I enjoy seeing you all the fucking time! Sometimes I get pissed off when you don't show up, because it makes me wonder where the fuck you are instead!"

Izaya stared at him.

Okay, that was it. Shoving away from Izaya, Shizuo stormed off in the direction he came from. Shinra was gonna die. Painfully. Right now. It might not make this crap wear off any faster, but he'd feel a hell of a lot better for it. Plus it'd be one less person Izaya could run to, giggling at all the stupid things he said.

He screeched to a halt at the sound of the flea's laughter, wheeling around with a snarled, "What the hell's so funny, hah?"

"Ah, Shizu-chan…" Izaya shook his head, wiping his eyes dramatically. "Were you always this funny, or is it something new?"

Shizuo shrugged miserably. "It's new. Been about… an hour, give or take."

"I see…" Izaya tilted his head, eyes still mirthful. "So was this new and improved you all for my benefit?"

"Fuck, no. I don't know who the hell's supposed to benefit from this, but you were that last bastard on earth I wanted to run into."

"Aw," Izaya pretended to pout. "That's not very nice, Shizu-chan…" His eyes narrowed. "Don't tell me you've actually found a new playmate?"

"Tch, like hell I have…" Giving up on murdering Shinra in favour of just losing Izaya somewhere on the city streets, he began pacing again, dragging his cigarettes from his pocket and lighting one with an angry flick of his lighter. "Anyway, didn't you hear me first time? Go the hell away, flea. I'm not doing this today."

Or any day until he wasn't mortified every time he opened his mouth. He supposed he should count himself fortunate that Izaya still thought this was part of the game. In that sense, Izaya laughing at him and misunderstanding was pretty much what he'd expected all along. That was why he'd never bothered saying anything.

Well, that and the fact he had no idea why he was so hung up on such an asshole. He hated every damn thing the flea did, and hated how he did it. He hated that smirk, and those eyes, and that ugly as fuck jacket. Maybe that was why, in his fantasies, Izaya was always naked already, eyes squeezed shut, and mouth too slack with pleasure to do anything but moan his name.

what the hell's wrong with you? Don't think crap like that when he's ten feet away from you and you're ranting on like this is your deathbed confession…!

It might as well be.

Wandering closer with all the blasé fearlessness of one of those savannah birds who played chicken with the lions – and fuck, maybe that was his only redeeming feature. That and how goddamn pretty he is, I mean, just look at his mouth and his… shut up, shut up, shut up…! - there was something a little dangerous in Izaya's smile. Something that might have been a threat, accompanied by a honey-dripping razor-sharp smile. "Well, that's good, ne… I'm still your favourite, right Shizu-chan?"

He didn't know which one of them looked most surprised at the choked off groan that caught in his throat. Izaya's smile faltered, as Shizuo, feeling the heat rise in his face and imagining himself like one of those cartoon thermometers about to explode, clamped both hands over his mouth as he turned and fled. Who gave a fuck if Izaya thought he was losing it, or chickenshit, or some failed alien experiment, it was better than staying and having what was left of his pride crushed.

And hopefully Izaya didn't hear the words muffled by his fingers as the flea watched him go with an uncharacteristically startled look on his face.

"You're always my favourite, dumbass flea!"

"And then he ran away. I mean, there must be something going on, ne?"

A couple of days later, Izaya sat on Shinra's couch, helping himself to the doctor's tea while Shinra patched up the after-effects of a rather irate client, and the courier seethed smokily at him from the other side of the room.

"Maybe he just got bored with you?" Shinra smiled, cheerfully dousing the handful of stitches Izaya needed in the cut on his leg with a stinging antiseptic solution. Quite humiliatingly, he'd managed to dodge the threat of guns and punches only to trip in an alley as he escaped, slicing his leg open on a broken bottle. And the only thing he could blame for his lack of concentration was this sudden pre-occupation with Shizu-chan's strangely avoidant behaviour.

Not just avoidant… Odd. He really would have put it down to Shizu-chan trying his hand at the mental capacity required for sarcasm, except that if it was sarcasm, Shizuo had missed the part about enjoying it. Instead, every word had been forced past the blond's lips, and he certainly hadn't been enjoying it.

A bet? A dare? Something that would have prompted Shizu-chan to such awkward honesty.

Che, honesty from a monster. Izaya wrinkled his nose at the very concept. Not that humans were on exceptionally close terms with the habit either, but even so… they had the potential for it. Beasts only had the capacity for… beastly things. Eating, sleeping, fighting, and presumably fucking, although nothing pinged on any of his tangled wires of information to confirm or deny whether Shizu-chan did anything of the sort.

Not that he cared, obviously.

"Bored?" He laughed, a little too loudly. "That's hardly likely. No… something's going on with him. Has he said anything to you?"

Leaning back to admire his work, Shinra looked up at him. "Well, there was—Oof!" Something shoved the doctor from behind, knocking his glasses halfway down his nose. On the other side of the room, Celty paid suspiciously close attention to her PDA, shadows retreating innocently to her side. Adjusting his glasses, Shinra cleared his throat. "I mean, even if he had, do you really think I'd tell you?"

"No, I suppose not…" Izaya regarded Shinra's bland smile dubiously. "Except that you're doing an awful job as covering up whatever it is you know."

Shinra sighed. "Well—Ow!" Rubbing the back of his head, he looked back at the dullahan looming behind him. "Aww, Celty~! It'd be a good chance to gather data!"

"Data?" Interest piqued, Izaya leaned forward. Data was always fun. Data on Shizu-chan doubly so. "Data on what?"

A PDA slashed between them, the screen aimed at Shinra. Izaya tried, but he couldn't make out the backwards reflection in the doctor's glasses before Celty snatched it back again, but he could imagine the sort of thing it said. Variants of 'Leave Shizuo alone!' were at the top of his list.

"But it's safer here, right?" Shinra looked up pleadingly. "You can even play referee!"

Celty typed something else, and this time when Izaya tried craning his neck around to see, the dullahan made a point of tilting it out of his line of sight. Sitting back, he folded his arms across his chest. "It's rude to carry out private conversations in front of other people, you know."

"Ah, you're just jealous, right?" Shinra said cheerfully. "That we can have private lovey-dovey conversations and you can't, because no one wants to have private lovey-dovey conversations with you."

Izaya scowled. "Don't put me in with romantic idiots like you, Shinra. The thought of private lovey-dovey conversations make some of us physically sick."

"So you say," Shinra chuckled, before looking back at Celty. "If it gets bad, you can knock him out?"

Celty paused at that, considering it. Then with a drop of one shoulder, she shrugged. Shinra beamed.

"Great!" he dug out his phone, pressing a number he had on speed dial. And Izaya suspected who the recipient of that call might be, but it was still gratifying to hear Shinra say, "Shizuo? Ah, I'm glad I caught you…" The doctor winced a little, and given the fact Izaya could hear Shizu-chan's roar from where he sat, he couldn't blame him. "Well, yes, you're right, where would you go in your condition, heh, heh…"

Condition? This was just getting better and better…

"Well that's what I wanted to talk to you about, you see… no, I haven't discovered an antidote yet, but there's an experiment I'd like to… no, no, there'd be no probes involved at all so…" Shinra made a pained expression. "Yes, I'm sure it does hurt, and the cold can't be… well, yes, I'm sure nothing else has ever been up there, so… yes, pornography does make it seem over-rated. Look," he cut off whatever Shizuo was rambling about – and oh, Izaya would have given anything to hear the other side of that conversation – with a slightly desperate snap, "come over. There's something I want to try that might help. Yes, totally non-intrusive, I promise. Yes, I know you'd rather shake me till all my teeth fall out than trust me ever again, but… Yes, right now. Okay so… Ah." Shinra looked at the phone wearily, as if he'd just gone ten rounds with a boxer. One who had a thing for probes and porn. "He hung up. I wonder if he'll really come…?"

[Did he say he would?]

"Well, yes, but…" Shinra brightened. "Oh, that's right, huh? If he said so, then he has to come."

Izaya waited a couple of minutes for them to give him the 'get out, our important friend Shizuo is coming over' speech, but it didn't come. Relenting to curiosity, he tilted his head. "So, Shizu-chan has a 'condition', ne?"

"Only an, um… temporary one." Shinra smiled weakly. "You'll see when he gets here."

Celty's shadows twisted in a sigh, as her shoulder slumped in the classic 'this is a bad idea' gesture, and that was the limit of the conversation until the thumping footsteps echoed out in the hall, followed by a loud banging on the front door. Shinra jumped to his feet, scurrying over, pausing in the hallway.

"Ah, maybe I should hide you first, and then… no, no, it'll work this way too." Izaya lost sight of him as he opened the front door, but the familiar sound of Shizuo crashing into their lives rattled back down the hallway soon enough.

"I swear, Shinra, if you're still gonna try one of your exams…"

"Oh, no, no! I promised, right?"

"Cause I meant it, I don't give a shit how much fun it looks, no one's shoving anything up my ass."

"Okay, understood."

"Besides, everyone fakes that crap, everybody knows that." Muttering to himself, Shizuo stomped down the hall, Shinra trying to keep up. "So if it's not exams or probes, what's your experiment, anyway? Unless you've found something to make this —" the blond stopped dead in the doorway as he caught sight of Izaya. For his part, Izaya waved sweetly from the couch, amused by the way the thunderous look on Shizuo's face just darkened. "What the hell is he doing here?"

"Well, this is the experiment!" Shinra went for a weak little 'ta-da' wave of his hands. "Good idea, right?"

"No! It's the stupidest fucking idea you've ever had, and you've had a lot of stupid fucking ideas, Shinra, goddammit…" Shizuo turned back for the door, only to see Shinra blocking it. Or standing there half-ducking in preparation for the punch. Izaya wasn't sure that counted as the same thing, really… "Get out of the fricking way."

Shinra looked up timidly. "You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses, right?"

And Izaya laughed, waiting for Shizu-chan's retort to a cliché like that, when Shizuo's shoulders drooped.

"No… Fuck! This shit is pissing me off…"

Izaya blinked. "What happened to you, Shizu-chan?"

With a sound that was more animal than anything even resembling human, Shizuo lurched around to face him, eyes blazing and a rather fetching little blush on his cheeks. And just like the other day, he seemed to be straining not to speak.

"…Truth serum." The words tore free anyway, leaving Shizuo a little breathless as he continued to mutter a string of colourful curses. "Fucking bastard Shinra…"

"Truth serum?" Izaya echoed, before giving in to the fit of laughter that had been threatening ever since his started making up Shizuo's side of that phone call. "Shinra gave you a truth serum? Oh, this is just…" The more he grinned, the more aghast the blond looked. "This is the funniest thing I've heard in… ah, forever!"

"Shut the fuck up…"

Getting to his feet, he sauntered over to where Shizuo was doing his best not to look at him. It looked as though Shizuo was doing his best not to breathe, too. Izaya leaned down to peer up at that averted gaze. "So you can't lie, no matter how much you want to?" Cackling, he smiled widely. "So if I asked, for instance… 'is Shizu-chan a virgin', you've have to tell me the truth, right?"

Everybody ducked around the time Shizuo's fist connected with Shinra's wall. Even Celty, and she didn't even have a head for the protozoan to knock off. Well, she didn't have ears either, but even the dullahan couldn't have missed that gloriously furious snarl of, "…yes godsfuckingdammit, are you happy now you shitty flea?"

"Happy?" Izaya smiled breezily, rocking back on his heels. "Try ecstatic. Ah, but that one was too easy, ne? I mean, anyone could have guessed that, as socially inept and monstrous as you are. So let's see… I bet you don't want to be a virgin, right?"

He giggled at the soft muttered chant of "Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, no, I'll kill you, I'll kill you, I'll fucking kill you till you're dead…!"

"So you probably fantasize, right?" He skipped a step or two out of reach, because it sounded as if Shizuo was awfully serious about that. "About someone daring or dumb enough to touch a monster like you?"

Shizuo tried going for the door again, but Shinra was standing his ground, far too interested in his 'data' to realize he was a second away from a broken nose, glasses or no glasses. Fists still covered with little specks of plaster, Shizuo wheeled around to face Izaya again instead, chin raised.

Oh, so now we're going for defiance? As expected from an unpredictable beast…

"So what if I do?" The flush was reaching Shizuo's ears now, little peeks of red through the gold of his hair. "It's… you know. Healthy. 'Cause those chat shows tell you so all the time, it's good to have an active fantasy life."

"Chat shows?" Izaya snorted. "You mean the ones aimed at a target female audience?"

"If it's on TV, then it's fair fricking game!" Shizuo glowered. "'Sides, Kasuka was on one this one time, and then I kinda kept watching the rest and it was…" A single bead of sweat trickled its way down the side of Shizuo's face, jaw tense enough to break nuts – likely Izaya's – but the words barked out anyway. "…really interesting."

Ah, the only way this could have been more entertaining was if Shinra had the foresight to have set up a recording of it for his 'data'. Data that Izaya would have proceeded to hack at the first possible opportunity, creating a copy for himself of the most entertainingly ridiculous thing Shizuo Heiwajima had ever done. And he had a long back catalog to choose from.

"Interesting? Okay…" He smiled wickedly. "So what's your favourite fantasy, Shizu-chan? Since you're clearly so healthily in touch with your feminine side."

"Is this, uh…" Shinra piped up. "I mean, for you, this is a really tame line of questioning, and I do need to see if there are any limits to the things he'll be honest about, but…" The doctor ducked his head a little. "Sexual fantasies? Really?"

"Why not?" Izaya shrugged. "If this doesn't work, I'll move on to other topics, ne?"

Shinra sighed. "I think you're making a mistake."

"Che, since when are you a prude? You're the one whose girlfriend is headless and has that creepy…" Izaya made a face, waggling his fingers. "Tentacle smoke."

He dodged out of the way as the same creepy tentacle smoke tried to punch him in the shoulder. Now that he had the thought in his head, Izaya didn't want it anywhere near him. Not just because she was a monster, but… he had no idea where it might have been…!

Shizuo had somehow managed to fight himself while they squabbled. Gripping the back of Shinra's couch hard enough that the whole thing quivered, he was breathing shallowly. Shinra watched him expectantly, and Izaya couldn't help the flare of disappointment; really, was something that innocuous enough to over ride the serum? Che, that was just—

"Dominance," rumbled low and grudging from the blond's direction. "My… fantasy."

Izaya pouted. "Well, that's hardly a shock either, ne? Really, Shizu-chan, you're no fun."

"Not…" And that was the whine of a trapped animal if Izaya had ever heard one. Which he hadn't, obviously, but surely it would be that heady cocktail of pain and humiliation and utter, furious frustration. "Not me doing it, fuck…"

Glee cresting over him in a delirious wave, Izaya had to take a moment just to calm down. This was possibly the happiest moment of his twenty one years. Humans were fascinating, yes, and watching their inexorable trudge towards destruction like ants in a glass-enclosed colony could have sustained him for years, but this… Oh, this was just special.

"Oh?" Shifting a little closer, he nudged Shizuo with his elbow, feeling the blond flinch. "So who are you imagining is holding your leash, Shizu-chan? Let's see…" He pretended to tap his lower lip thoughtfully. "I bet it's your cute little kouhai, right? She always struck me as the type who'd be good with a whip…"

"Huh?" Shizuo's gaze snapped up. "No! That's just… the hell do you take me for?"

"Currently?" Izaya tilted his head. "A masochist with a penchant for daytime television. Really, Shizu-chan, just when I thought you couldn't be more of a monster…"

"And it's not Celty," Shinra interjected even though no one had asked him. "I tried that one right at the beginning."

[You did what? Shinra!] An irate coil of shadow lifted Shinra's glasses clean off his face. [I'm sorry, Shizuo. Please feel free to hit him. I've gotten rid of his glasses just for you.]

"Celty~!" Blinking owlishly, Shinra fumbled for what must have been a blurry tendril of darkness, missing his glasses at every grab. "Give those back, you know I can't see without them!"

[Good!] Celty typed, although Izaya questioned the logic. [Maybe that way you won't duck before Shizuo can punch you!]

"Shit, no one's punching anyone, okay?"

"You told him to punch me?" Shinra wailed. "But Celty, my love, you want to see my research progress, don't you?"

Annoyed at the way the control of the interrogation had slipped from his grasp, Izaya was determined to wrench it back. And that was the only excuse he had for the question that came next.

"Not your kouhai, not the courier… Heh, so what about me?" He'd meant it as a joke, he really had. "Has Shizu-chan ever fantasized about me?"

Shizuo didn't even need to answer; the horror on his face was plenty. But it seemed the drugs wouldn't be satisfied with his silence, because the blond still breathed out a choked "Yes."

For a second, just one, tiny, brief second, Izaya could only stare, and the only reason he got away with it was that everyone else was staring at Shizuo too. Shinra took advantage of Celty's shock to fumble his glasses back, watching Shizuo with all the creepy fascination of a kid with his first frog dissection. So before anyone could draw undue attention to his reaction, Izaya burst out laughing. "Hah! In your dreams, Shizu-chan!"

Shizuo turned an interesting shade of puce, and blurted out, "It is in my fucking dreams!" before clamping both hands over his mouth again, brown eyes comically huge above a blush Izaya could have cooked his ootoro on.

It really was adorable, to see the monster neutered by his own honesty. Almost as adorable as the squeaky little sound Shizuo made as he turned a helpless look to Shinra, and mumbled from behind his hands. "Okay, you need to fix this now before I—"

Too late, Shizu-chan!

"So, these dreams… are they just regular fucking dreams, or you know… actual fucking dreams?"

"It's not fucking!" Shizuo yelled, hands fisted at his sides, which, Izaya reflected, given the way this conversation was going was far preferable to them being fisted anywhere else. Eyes gleaming like hazard lights, the blond stalked towards him, resplendently pissed off. "It's making love!"

Izaya made an inelegant sound that was partway choking and partway snorting tea he hadn't even drunk through his nose. But really, if there were words that would convey how simultaneously wrong and funny that statement was, they hadn't been invented yet. "Ah, Shizu-chan, I didn't know you cared!"

"I don't! I just…"

Taking pity on how badly the blond was struggling, Izaya nodded sympathetically. "Want my ass. Or…" He tapped his lips thoughtfully. "No, it'd be wanting me to want your ass, wouldn't it? Which is never going to happen, so—"

"Shut the hell up! Why do you think I never wanted you to know?"

"Oh? So wanting me is more embarrassing than watching shows designed for housewives?"

"Of course it is! It's the most embarrassing fricking thing on the planet! Goddamn flea… you're a lying, cheating, sneaky, underhand, self-centred asshole, and I want you anyway! There is nothing more damn embarrassing than that!"

Izaya's eyes narrowed. Shizu-chan's honesty was veering into brutal territory now. It was time to tip the game back in his favour.

"Nothing?" He smiled slyly. "So how about all this porn you've been watching?"

"S-so? It's a free country, I can watch porn so I don't think about you if I want to."

"But you think about me anyway, ne?"

"…Not on fricking purpose!"

"Ah, true, you can't control those monstrous urges of yours, hmm? Not to mention those kinky little dominance fantasies of yours?"

Shizuo swallowed hard, and whimpered. "Fantasies are healthy…!"

"Ah, you should know by now, Shizu-chan…" Izaya drew out his blade, dragging his tongue along the edge as he smiled darkly. "No fantasy involving me could ever be good for your health."

When things started flying, Shinra dragged Celty behind the couch for some protection. Still, too curious to stay down when she urged him to do so, he propped himself up on his elbows, watching eagerly over the back of the couch like a kid braving a gory horror movie.

"There's the door, Shizu-chan!" Izaya dodged out of the way of Shinra's toaster by skipping over the coffee table. "Feel free to leave!"

"Don't wanna leave…!" Shizuo roared, chest rising and falling as he panted for breath. It wasn't the drugs, Shinra observed, nor the exertion; Shizuo could throw his entire apartment without breaking a sweat. No, it appeared as though the whole effort was mental, an attempt to fight the effects of the serum. Ah, he knew he'd picked the best test subject! No one else he knew had that sort of mental fortitude! "You're here, so I'm staying here too!"

"Well then, I'll leave, ne?" Izaya nodded, trying to slink towards the door only for one of Shinra's planters to block his path. It was highly noteworthy that even past his declarations of affection – Shinra decided to call it affection, for when he recorded his findings later, even though "I want you to tie me to your desk and ride me till we can't walk straight!" wasn't… exactly affection – Shizuo still found no problem trying to render Izaya unconscious with just about anything in Shinra's apartment that wasn't nailed down. Judging by the rest of the admissions, Shinra didn't think it was some throwback to cavemen days, although of course he'd think about intervening, maybe, if Shizuo clubbed Izaya over the head and dragged him home…

No, it just seemed as if both reactions co-existed quite happily within Shizuo's psyche.

Or… well. Co-existed, anyway.

"No! 'Cause then I'd have to go with you!" Shizuo shook his head, face contorted in an expression of utter disbelief at the things coming out of his mouth. "So just stay here until this crap wears off and we can pretend none of this ever happened, hah?"

Izaya giggled. "Aww, Shizu-chan wants to forget all about his sweet confession?"

"Fuck, yes!"

A sharp jabbing in his side drew his attention back to Celty, frantically typing. [Shinra, do something!]

"Like what?" Shinra blinked, as his fruit bowl whizzed over his head, followed a few seconds later by the fruit. "I'm not getting involved—"

Something crashed through the glass office doors.

"Goddamn flea, I like you! Take responsibility!"

"Sorry, Shizu-chan, I have a 'never date monsters' policy, ne? Maybe come back to me when you're human."

"But it's quite cute, don't you think?" Shinra mused. "In a really aggressive way. Like being courted by a very enthusiastic grizzly bear."

[You're enjoying this, aren't you?]

Shinra beamed. "Of course! This is turning out even better than I could have hoped."

[You did it on purpose?]

"Well…" Chin on his hands, Shinra marvelled at the proceedings over the back of the couch with a boyish smile. "Not 'on purpose', exactly, I just gathered all the pieces together. Whether or not they play the game, well, that's not up to me."

Celty's shadows shook. [You did it on purpose…]

"But I needed the data!" Shinra put on his best endearing expression, eyes huge behind his glasses. "And it isn't hurting any—"

They both flinched and ducked as their coffee table clipped the open balcony door as it careened out into the Ikebukuro sky. Izaya, on his knees from dodging the missile, glared at him and hissed. "Will you do something about this?"

"He can't!" Shizuo growled. "No one can! I've fricking tried everything! Cold showers, porn with hot chicks in, thinking of y'know… math! But then it's one times two is two, and none of the chicks are as hot as you are, so I'm thinking about you again and it's driving me crazy! Fuck, fuck, fuck!"

"While it's…shit!" Trying to scramble to his feet Izaya dodged one of Shinra's lamps as it flew at his head, smashing on the wall behind him. "It's nice that you think I'm hot, Shizu-chan, but I don't fuck monsters, ne? Bestiality isn't my thing."

"Goddammit, I told you, it's making love!"

"No, no…!" Despite his protests, Izaya seemed to be enjoying himself as he twirled out of the way of one of Shinra's kitchen stools before it embedded itself in the wall, inches from his skull. "Only humans can do that! And Shizu-chan isn't human!"

"So you'd do it if I was?"

Interestingly enough, Izaya faltered at that, looking surprised for a second before the mantle of malicious bluffing settled back over his eyes. "Well, at least then it might be legal."

[Shinra.] Celty jabbed him in the ribs again, typing an emoticon of a frowny face so that he couldn't miss the face she was displeased. [You got them into this, you get them out. Otherwise we're not going to have much of an apartment left by the time this great idea of yours wears off.]

Ah, she had a point…

"So if I prove I'm human, you'll go out with me, right?"

"When did I say I'd do that?"

"Goddamn shitty louse… just now!"

"Shizu-chan's hearing things! And anyway, you wanted my ass, where does some sickeningly romantic date fit into it?"

Shizuo's voice was low and menacing. "Fricking chat show says people like to be made to feel special first! So you're gonna feel fucking special, okay?"

"Oh?" Izaya held out his knife. "Or, how about I make you feel very, very special, Shizu-chan…"

"Okay, okay…" Shinra popped up from behind the couch… possibly coaxed by a sharp shadow punch. "I can fix this!"

Shizuo let out a breath. "About fucking time… How?"

"Well, based on my observations, there's only one course of action I can take." Shinra smiled broadly as he stood, making his way over to one of the last remaining items in his kitchen. Irony, serendipity, or blind luck, he couldn't tell. Knowing these two, all three, in one hissing, spitting, catfight. "Izaya… how do you take your coffee?"